Allergen labelling of non-prepacked (loose) foods

After the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) had in July submitted a draft implementing ordinance to bring national legislation into line with the EU Regulation on the provision of food information, the German Federal Council passed a revised version on November, 28th.

The provisional additional ordinance on the provision of food information (VorlLMIEV) essentially stipulates the following on the labelling of non-prepacked foods:

(Note: For reasons of simplicity, all substances or products that cause allergies or intolerances listed in Appendix II of the LMIV are simply referred to as "allergenic" substances or "allergens".)

Information on allergenic ingredients or processing aids is obligatory on foods that are a) not packaged, b) packaged on the spot on request of the end consumer or food business operator c) pre-packed for direct sale and not offered for self-service when sold to the end consumer or food business operator.

Information on allergens contained or used in the food must be provided on a label on or near the food or, in the case of food business operators, on the menu or list of beverages or on the price list prior to selling and prior to providing the food; in the second case easily understandable footnotes are permitted, provided the stated food is provided with clear reference to the footnote. Unlike in the ordinance draft of July, it is no longer obligatory to place the word "contains" in front of the allergen to be stated. Similarly, the passage indicating that allergen labelling is not required if the presence of the allergen can be deduced from the name of the food itself, has been eliminated, since this is not always the case with fish or crustaceans, for example. If there is a list of ingredients, the allergenic ingredient must be highlighted typographically, as is the case with pre-packed foods.

Instead of a label, it is also possible to inform about allergens on a notice in the shop. If clearly indicated, the information may also be provided in other written form or electronically. Consumers must easily be able to access this information at the latest when the food is supplied to them.

Contrary to the draft of July, verbal information on allergens is generally permitted and no longer represents an exception applicable to daily changing recipes only. The prerequisite for this is that the possibility of obtaining verbal information on allergens is clearly indicated and that the information is provided on request prior to selling and prior to providing the food to the consumer. In addition, food suppliers are obliged to keep written records about allergens used in the production or preparation of food for the event of food inspections from the relevant authorities, and these must also be accessible to the consumer on request.

The regulations stated also apply to the selling of wine products by the glass.